Most small businesses never consider that they would ever be a victim of a security breach. Many assume it could never happen to them. However, it is crucial that every small company takes all the proactive steps necessary to reduce the potential of being hacked.
Research indicates that even though companies understand the high level of risk of a security breach within their organization, most simply do not put out the effort to review or update their security procedures. Most do not incorporate any type of auditing or teach employees effective ways to protect the crucial, confidential data of the business.
Even though the headlines are usually filled with stories about large corporations being victimized by cyber-attacks, it is actually small companies that are much more vulnerable to being hacked. Typically, small organizations often neglect to take the steps to add effective controls as a safeguard against attack. By not having a strong enough security in place to fully protect confidential data, companies are continually putting their reputations on the line.
A Constant Threat
The risk of having confidential information fall into the wrong hands often poses a constant dangerous threat. This can often be an unfortunate situation for small businesses that is completely avoidable. Statistics show that more than 5% of all small businesses at some point will be a victim of a cyber-attack. These statistics indicate that it is not “if” an attack will occur, but “when”.
It is important that every small business understands the weakness of their security system when connecting to the company intranet, or the public Internet. An online hacker will spend most of their time searching for the vulnerabilities of a company intranet system. Once located, they simply exploit them, to gain unauthorized access to confidential files, folders, information and crucial data.
Most companies that are victims of a cyber-attack are often totally unaware that their system has been compromised. Even companies that have been hacked believe that it is a one-time incident. However, when a hacker takes the length of time necessary to penetrate into the company intranet, it is most likely that he or she will continually come back for more.
Usually, once a hacker has gained access by compromising an account, they will install a secret “back door” that provides instant access the next time. This means that even if a company has been able to detect the problem, and plug the gap in their security system, the hacker simply gains unauthorized access through their installed back door.
More Than Just a Firewall Is Needed
Many small companies believe that a firewall is all they need as a level of security against online attack. However, a firewall is nothing more than a front door security gate that does nothing to protect the back door or the windows. In the security world, it is the job of the IT department, or managed service provider (MSP), to continually safeguard against all possible attacks, not just those that would seemingly come through the “front door.”
Implementing security is not an easy action. It requires a specific skill and continuous auditing. High-level security that is both effective and total requires a well-designed blueprint that meets the needs of each individual company. High-level security requires an understanding of all the ways that a hacker can gain access. It creates the need to develop and implement a variety of solutions to minimize the potential of a cyber-attack.
The Need for Training
Every small and large company needs to have effective training for all of their employees. The training is based on proven protocols and policies that must be followed by every member of the workforce. This typically includes the development of strong passwords. In addition, it also should include detailed training on exactly how to avoid downloading viruses, worms, malware and other malicious products designed to do harm to the company network infrastructure.
A Far-Reaching Problem
Security breaches do not just happen in the office. Any compromised information can occur on a stolen or lost laptop, or through a mobile device including a smartphone or tablet. Because of that, the IT department, or managed service provider, needs to ensure that all data transmitted to and from the company intranet be encrypted. This will minimize the potential of exposing crucial confidential information, even if the hacker can capture the data while it travels across the Internet.
It is important that every company big and small realizes that a data breach can happen to them. It can occur at any time. All it takes is one unauthorized individual to gain access to private or sensitive data that could lead to its exposure. The stolen information can be used for identity theft, or to do long-term damage to a company’s finances and reputation.
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